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Raspberry Sundae peony

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Raspberry Sundae peony is a soft pink and yellow bicolor peony cultivar with fluffy bombe-type petals. Individual flowers are 5″-7″ wide and have a floral sweet fragrance, blooming in mid-spring. Plants grow about 36″ tall, with an overall foliage width of 30″-36″ wide when established.

Carl Klehm of Illinois (USA) bred the Raspberry Sundae peony and introduced it in 1968. Raspberry Sundae is a cultivar of Paeonia lactiflora.

Raspberry Sundae peony basics

The Raspberry Sundae Peony is a cultivar of Paeonia lactiflora known for its unique pink and yellow coloration and sweet fragrance. This popular flower was bred in Illinois by Carl G. Klehm. The American Peony Society honored Carl Klehm in 1966 with the Silvia Award (Society of American Florists). The Khlem family has produced many notable peony varieties throughout previous decades, including the Pink Hawaiian Coral peony.

Raspberry Sundae was bred from Charley’s White peony and an unnamed peony grown from seed by Klehm. The first flower was observed in 1951, and the cultivar was introduced to the public in 1968. Raspberry Sundae peonies tend to bloom in mid-late spring. Raspberry Sundae is considered a mid-season bloomer compared to other perennials or peonies.

Flowers of the Raspberry Sundae peony truly do resemble the dessert they are named after, with creamy vanilla-yellow petals matched up with a berry-pink topping. Flowers are large (5″-7″ wide) bombe-type flowers with many layers of fluffy petals. The outer petals are pink and wider than the thinner pink and yellow petals in the middle.

Raspberry Sundae peony plants take years to grow and mature in size. At full-grown size, the beautiful plants are generally 36″ tall and have a width of 30″-36″ across. Despite the name “Raspberry Sundae,” peonies are not edible. They are, however, gorgeous flowers that would be a wonderful addition to an ornamental flower garden.

Raspberry sundae plants

Classification

Raspberry Sundae peony plants (Paeonia lactifloraRaspberry Sundae’) are herbaceous perennial peony plants with bombe-type peony flowers that bloom early in peony growing season (mid-spring).

Peonies considered bombe-type, like Raspberry Sundae, are a special type of double-flowered peony. Specifically, its double flowers form outer “guard” petals that are longer and wider than the inner transformed petals (although the inner petals do unfurl quite a bit as blooms mature). Another bombe-type peony named after a dessert is the bright-pink Sorbet peony (pictured below in a bouquet with the Raspberry Sundae Peony).

Raspberry Sundae peonies can grow to be about 2.5 to 3 feet tall. They can spread to be about 2.5 to 3 feet wide as well. Good, well-drained soil, adequate water for its needs, and plenty of sunlight will help your peony plant grow strong. If it’s given the care that it needs, this plant will be able to thrive and grow to its full size.

Raspberry sundae peony (bottom center) with some sorbet peonies (top center, bottom left)

Planting a peony

When planting a bare-root Raspberry Sundae peony plant, dig a hole large enough to spread out the roots without bending them to make them fit. Set the crown with flower buds about 1 inch below ground level. The peony buds, called “eyes,” are small white/pink bits on the otherwise brown and woody root. Be sure to place the root in the ground so the eyes are facing up towards the sky, as they will grow upwards to become the stems.

Fall is the best time of year to plant bare-root peonies, but make sure to plant them at least six weeks before the ground freezes. This will give them the best chance of blooming the following spring. Raspberry Sundae bare-root peonies can also be planted in early spring.

Raspberry Sundae peonies should be planted in a place where they can get plenty of sunlight. Herbaceous varieties require at least 5 to 6 hours of full sun each day. The loamy soil they’re planted in should have good drainage, and their roots should never be left standing in water. They also shouldn’t be planted near any large trees or shrubs. This is because they don’t like having root competition, and they need their own space.

Raspberry Sundae peonies should be planted and spaced out about 3 to 4 feet apart. This type of peony plant will usually spread to be about 3 feet wide, so you’ll need to have them spaced out at least that much. They are on the larger end of the spectrum in terms of peony sizes.

Caring for peony plants

Herbaceous peonies are quite resilient once the plants have been in the ground happily for a couple of years. They can live and thrive for 50 years or more. Each winter, their stems will die and go back to the ground. Then, they will reemerge in the springtime.

Since the flowers are typically so large, full, and heavy, they can tend to droop (especially after a good rainstorm and water has collected on the flowers’ many petals). The stems can snap under the weight or simply droop so far that the flowers rest on the ground and rot.

Herbaceous peonies are low maintenance and require little water. They are naturally resistant to most pests and aren’t typically bothered by deer. They may, however, be susceptible to powdery mildew.

Deadheading should be done regularly. Remove spent flowers as they grow to maintain the plant’s health by minimizing habitat for pests and disease.

Raspberry sundae peony
Raspberry sundae peony

Raspberry Sundae blooming season

Raspberry Sundae peonies will typically bloom in mid-May or early June. Each herbaceous plant will usually bloom for about 7 to 10 days on average. To extend the peony bloom in general to about 6 or 7 weeks, try to grow a combination of different types of peonies that bloom in the early, mid, and late growing season.

Mary Jane Duford
Mary Jane Duford

Mary Jane Duford is a quintessential Canadian gardener. An engineer by trade, she tends to an ever-expanding collection of plants. In her world, laughter blooms as freely as her flowers, and every plant is raised with a dash of Canadian grit.

Mary Jane is a certified Master Gardener and also holds a Permaculture Design Certificate. She's also a proud mom of three, teaching her little sprouts the crucial difference between a garden friend and foe.

When she's not playing in the dirt, Mary Jane revels in her love for Taylor Swift, Gilmore Girls, ice hockey, and the surprisingly soothing sounds of bluegrass covers of classic hip-hop songs. She invites you to join her garden party, a place where you can share in the joy of growing and where every day is a new opportunity to find the perfect spot for yet another plant.

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